And they'll be recyclable!
March 01, 2019

Photo: Courtesy of Closed Loop Partners

This story originally appeared on by Caitlin Petreycik.

Last July, Starbucks made a major announcement that they're ditching their signature green plastic straws by 2020-instead, all drinks will be outfitted with sippy cup lids. Then, a few weeks later, the coffee giant doubled down on their commitment to sustainability by teaming up with McDonald's to create a totally recyclable, compostable cup. (While both McDonald's and Starbucks cups are technically recyclable, they rarely make it into the appropriate bin-sometimes because components like the straw and lid don't belong there.)

Fully-compostable, plant-based cups might look something like this.

Photo: Courtesy of Closed Loop Partners

So, back in September, Starbucks launched the NextGen Cup Challenge, which encouraged businesses of any scale to contribute eco-friendly cup ideas-and 12 finalists have been chosen! The entries aimed to "push the boundaries of sustainable design and find innovative cup solutions," according to a Starbucks press release, and each offers one of three solutions: one group created innovative cup liners (the polyethylene plastic liners in most to-go coffee cups make them difficult to recycle); a second camp focused on new materials (particularly plant-based substances that are fully compostable); and a third aimed to reinvent reusable cups.

CupClub cups are meant to be cleaned and reused-they keep cycling through the system.

Photo: Courtesy of Closed Loop Partners

About that third group. One company pitched a "returnable cup ecosystem" called CupClub that sounds a bit like bike-sharing. Another business, Revolv, suggested a platform where you take your coffee to-go and return the cup to a cleaning station when you're done. The system is integrated with an app that helps you locate the nearest deposit spot. Then there's reCup-an idea out of Germany-where you rent a cup and return it to any participating partner shop.

Revolv's reusable cups, in Starbucks green.

Photo: Courtesy of Closed Loop Partners

The business with the best idea will receive $1 million in funding to develop its concept, working closely with both Starbucks and McDonald's on a cup that will ultimately be available in stores.

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